Don't Cut Me Any Slack Just Because I Have Cancer

I've had puppy fever since our daughter was born and have been lobbying for a third dog to add to our brood, one that can grow up with our daughter as "her" dog. (Okay, really, I just want a new puppy, but I figured that throwing our little girl into the mix could only strengthen my position.)

My husband keeps telling me he's open to the idea of a third dog, but when Maggie is a bit older and I am no longer going through chemo. He seems to think that training a new puppy while I'm going through treatment and we're learning to navigate the waters of baby-raising would be one thing too many for us.

He underestimates the power of puppy fever.


We were recently in Wisconsin visiting family and I fell IN LOVE with a 12-week-old puppy named Frankie. She was an Aussiedoodle, an Australian Shepherd/Poodle mix. I wanted her. Bad. 

My husband is an Australian Shepherd person. We have one purebred Aussie and one Aussie mix rescue, and he's pretty set on keeping our brood in that genre. I thought that this little Aussiedoodle would be the perfect compromise ... Aussie blood to satisfy my husband, with the fluffy cuteness of a poodle to add diversity. The perfect puppy for a little girl. 

My husband was having none of it. "We're not getting anything with the word 'doodle' attached to it," he said.

I pleaded my case off and on for a few weeks, but my husband would not be swayed. So in our most recent conversation on the subject, I pulled the cancer card.

"But I have cancer," I said. "What if I were to die ..."

Before I could finish the sentence, my husband interrupted me and said, "Then I'd be stuck with a fucking Aussiedoodle."

I had to laugh.

It is strangely comforting that my husband treats me no differently than before, even though I have a potentially deadly disease. There's no tiptoeing around me; no handling me with kid gloves. No lingering sad looks. He busts my balls and expects as much from me as much as he ever did and I love it. It's clear that in his mind, I'm not going anywhere any time soon.

On the flip side, I've heard from a number of people from my past, people that clearly have things they want to tell me while they still have the chance. And these messages from the blue have also been gifts.

I've been contacted by exes, telling me they know I'm a strong person and that I'm going to beat this. I've reconnected with old friends, who have reached out upon hearing the news of my diagnosis. I even heard from a woman who had bullied me in high school, who just wanted to say that she was sorry for how she treated me.

When the fragility of life is spotlighted, petty issues of the past just seem to vanish. I don't know why we have to wait for a life or death situation to present itself for us to let go of old baggage. We can do it right now.

These opportunities for closure and renewal have been one of the beautiful side-benefits of this disease, part of the upside of cancer.

But I still have no intention of going anywhere any time soon.

And I still want that puppy. 


Images top to bottom: Mark Montgomery, Erica Montgomery

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